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Wet Hands-on Preview

Wet Hands-On Preview

Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Expected release date: Late 2009

There are potentially a lot of very easy and very quick ways to describe Wet. We could say that it’s like Max Payne would be if it were directed by Quentin Tarantino. We could say that it’s like House of the Dead: Overkill remade as a third person shooter, minus the zombies. We could say that it’s like Stranglehold could have been if it had a gorgeous protagonist and wasn’t...well, a bit pants.

We could say all that, but those descriptions are all a tiny bit misleading – it’s safer to say that it’s a grindhouse-influenced third person shooter that makes absolutely no effort to be at all realistic. Instead, it goes hugely out of the way in order to be cinematic.

As you’d expect from any of the above openings, Wet is a game that’s full of impossible jumps, stylish setpieces, foul language and dual-wielding miniguns. It’s as over the top as you like and, excusing a few fairly simple errors that we hope will get ironed out of the final release (mainly camera grumbles), it’s pretty damned good.

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Meet Rubi Malone, gun for hire

The star of the game is a hired gun called Rubi, voiced by Eliza ‘Faith from Buffy’ Dushku – a mean-mouthed arse-kicker with a leather jacket, akimbo pistols, samurai sword and a big problem with a man who, at the start of the game, is sat 100 feet directly below her. That man is a Hong Kong crime lord and he’s got something Rubi wants – though what it is we weren’t able to ascertain, only that it comes in a suitcase and is vaguely McGuffin shaped.

Then, once you’ve been introduced to Rubi, comes the part of the game that the script probably refers to only as ‘Cue Bad-assery.’ Rubi somersaults down through the glass ceiling, landing in the centre of this big Triad meet and proceeds to unleash hell. It’s here that the player takes over, beginning a pursuit that lasts for several levels before the next act of the story begins.

Controlling Rubi is just what you’d expect of a console-borne third person shooter, with the exception being that Rubi obviously attended the Max Payne School of Schooling and not the Marcus Fenix Hide Like A Pansy College. Thus, there’s no cover system, but there are a number of acrobatic moves that you can unlock as you go through the game, though you only start out with a simple knee-slide and impossibly high jump.

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Death from above is Rubi's specialty

Like Max Payne and his bullet-time, Rubi can slow down time when she does these moves, but unlike most other games there isn’t any meter or time-out on how the slow-mo functions. You pull off a move and the slow motion kicks in as soon as you start firing, finishing as soon as your move stops or you stop firing. The dev team has therefore had to carefully balance the amount of slow-down to make sure that the game doesn’t become a (very slow) walk in the park. They’ve done a pretty good job too, so players can easily unleash a barrage of cool moves and pick enemies off in slow-mo, but the game doesn’t become too easy.

The moves aren’t limited to just gun-attacks either, though Rubi does rely on her akimbo pistols (which can be aimed independently when multiple enemies are about) for most of the game. At the press of a button you can choose to unleash a sword slash instead and we were promised that the sword becomes more and more powerful as you advance through the game and learn new ways to use it.

The best thing about this combat set-up though is that you can combine and string moves together, making the game a weird mash-up between a Tony Hawk game and Pulp Fiction. At the start of the game you can just slip from jumps into slides and vice versa, but as we progressed we learnt tonnes more moves and we able to carry our slow motion carnage through spins, flips, dives, wall-runs, vaults, rolls and some environment-specific moves too.